Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The service

Keith's funeral service was very nice. Our former pastor, who knew Keith all--or at least most--of his life, preached the sermon. My family is full of softies who wouldn't have been able to get up and talk during the service. So my dad wrote a few memories down (and I edited them for story and flow) for the pastor to read.

This pastor had visited Keith several and was impressed at the uncomplaining way Keith dealt with his illness. So the message had a personal touch in more than one way.

My mom picked both songs. The solo, "Finally home," which my husband sang, and the congregational song, "In Christ Alone (My Hope is Found)." I've loved the second song from the moment I first heard it. I didn't realize it was so appropriate for a funeral. Especially since Pastor Charlie's funeral sermons always include the salvation message. My voice was fairly strong until the last verse. The line "...no fear in death" choked me up and I gave up trying to sing after that. Look up the words and you'll see why.

Both at the funeral and at the visitation the night before, so many people hugged me. That much contact and love during such a hard time just filled me up. People don't always say the right things, but that's okay. Their eyes said it all before they could speak anyway. What I liked hearing most was a simple, "We're praying for you." The worst thing I heard--though I can laugh about it now--was, "Oh, sweetie. Oh, your dear brother is gone. You're going to miss him sooo much!" That started the tears! But I know this sweet lady meant well.

Keith himself would have laughed at that sort of "comfort" being given out. He had a great sense of humor and he was a good story teller. That's what I'll miss the most.

I was with him at the end. If you'll indulge me one more post about him, I'd like to write about that, and the incredible growth I had to go through over the past months to be willing to be there at the end.

After that, I'll probably go back into normal posts.

I have a big project to finish up first. Keith loved to read and was a huge sci-fi/fantasy fan. I've got about 500 books in my living room right now. I'm getting them alphabetized and cataloged so I can sell most of them. It's a project that's a bit overwhelming at times. But it's nice to have something to do that's connected with Keith.

Thanks for all the support you've shown.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Another update

My brother went to be with the Lord yesterday afternoon.

We're grieving, of course, but so thankful he didn't have to linger in a body that was filled with pain.

The funeral is Friday.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Thanks, everyone

I'm touched to know how many of you are praying. Thank you for the comments.

My brother Keith is still hanging in there, but each day I see a difference. Yesterday he was barely responsive. I spent the day starting funeral plans with my parents and sister, and checking on my brother once in a while.

In the evening, my husband and I went to the Helmuth's for supper, then visited Perry's grave, which had only recently gotten it's headstone.

An emotionally charged day, to say the least. But I held back for the most part--other than getting teary-eyed a few times. As I was getting ready for bed, it was the first time I was alone all day. The tears started coming and I couldn't stop. My husband came and sat by me and held me until I cried myself out. I needed that!

In a few minutes I'm heading to my parents' again. I'll let you know when anything changes. That way, you can know how to pray specifically, like David said in the comments. Right now the family is praying--if it's God's will--that Keith won't linger too long in this current state.

Again, thanks. There's nothing like brothers and sisters in Christ--both near and far--coming along side for support. God bless you all.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


It looks like my brother, who's been struggling with cancer for three and a half years, is down to his final days.

I don't put much stock in human estimates of how much time a person has left. The nurse's estimate of one week left for my father-in-law turned into seven weeks. But I know that my brother doesn't have much time left at any rate. He's had hospice care at my parent's house for a while now.

I'd appreciate a quick prayer for my family if you don't mind--the Tinquists. My brother is in quite a bit of pain. And if that's what it's come down to, none of us want it to drag on for longer than it has to. Once again, we're putting it in God's hands.

The timing isn't great. My husband's sister and her family will arrive tomorrow and stay through Thursday. So I'll be a bit torn between the Helmuths and the Tinquists this week. I should be able to alternate my time between them. But again, prayer is appreciated.

And yes, I have a book review due. I finished Searching for Spice, and really enjoyed it. I might write the review today. It could be Monday. Or it could be... don't hold your breath.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Summer Storm

We had an interesting storm last night. There were some amazing textures in the clouds. I wish I'd thought to grab the camera sooner. Every few minutes the sky looked completely different. As my husband was snapping this shot, our town's tornado siren went off. From the formation of those clouds, I wasn't surprised. I don't know if a tornado actually touched down anywhere.

Later we were awakened by a second storm. Marble-sized hail on a metal roof is an effective alarm.

And the lightening was amazing. I've never seen anything like it before. It was constant. I'm talking 2-3 flashes per second, every second. Maybe it's more common in other states, but I've never seen that type of strobe-light lightening.

Gotta love summer.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Book Review: Unbridled Dreams

Unbridled Dreams by Stephanie Grace Whitson

Publisher: Bethany
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: September, 2008

Eighteen-year-old Irma has been working for three years toward one goal—becoming part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. She’s a trick rider determined to take the stage as “Liberty Belle.” Irma’s mother has other plans for her, including finishing school and a good husband to tame her cattle-roping daughter. Marriage is the last thing Irma wants, but when she meets Shep Sterling, King of the Cowboys and Buffalo Bill’s right hand man, she has a hard time remembering that.

This book has a charming premise. The very name William F. Cody—Buffalo Bill—brings up all sorts of romanticized ideas about the Wild West. I immediately understood Irma’s desire to be a part of the show.

I was prepared to really like the book, but I was disappointed. I’m used to writing that brings me close to a character’s thoughts and emotions. Whitson sticks to the externals for the most part. I didn’t get to know the characters deep down. I didn’t feel what they were feeling because the words stayed on the surface. I was kept at arm’s length instead of being immersed in the story—part of it.

The entire book was building toward one moment, and when that moment came, it was told in summary, as if it wasn’t important after all. Over and over again scenes that had momentum behind them, and should have played out moment by moment, were rushed and told in summary. Robbed of all emotion.

I’ve heard of sagging middles, but this book had a sagging end. Irma reaches her goal partway through the story, and I felt it floundered after that. When the main character no longer has a goal to work toward, there’s nothing to base a story on. The author threw a couple of situations at her characters, but they lacked the basic driving force to make them work. For the last several chapters I kept wondering why the story hadn’t ended already.

The book did have its charm, but all in all I felt it could have had a lot more spark and depth.

Okay, shaking that off. (I don't like giving bad reviews.)

What I'm reading next: Searching for Spice by Megan DiMaria. I've heard great things about this book and I can't wait to start it.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th!

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My plans for the day involve all the traditional 4th of July stuff:

  • Grilling hamburgers at my parent's house
  • Swimming-- if the water is warm enough. (With our late, late spring, it hasn't been yet. Quick dip or floating on a mattress, yes. Actual swimming, no.)
  • And in the evening, heading out to the big lake on the pontoon boat to watch the fireworks. (Double the pleasure--seeing them in the sky and reflected in the water.)
I hope your day is as relaxing and fun as mine should be.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Book Review: Amber Morn


Amber Morn, by Brandilyn Collins, Zondervan, 2008

Genre: Suspense

This is the fourth book in the Kanner Lake series. All the characters we’ve gotten to know and love through the first three books are taken hostage in the Java Joint by three desperate men. Enough said.

The entire book takes place in about six hours’ time. Which means there are no breaks in the action to speak of. Each chapter ends with a typical Brandilyn Collins hook, only she’s taken it up a few notches. The story starts off tense and the tension keeps mounting in each chapter. I’ve never read a book that’s been harder to put down.

Excellent suspense. Brandilyn Collins’ tagline is “Don’t forget to breathe…” with good reason. It’s never been more true than in this high-speed book. (I actually found myself pressing a loose fist to my mouth more than once.)

What shouldn’t work in a novel, Collins pulls off brilliantly. There were a dozen hostages inside the cafĂ©, and at some point the story is seen from each of their viewpoints. Throw in a few point-of-view characters on the law enforcement side of the hostage situation, and that’s a huge ensemble cast.

In the average book, this many characters would leave the reader feeling disconnected because they aren’t allowed to get close to a particular character’s emotions for very long. The reason it works in Amber Morn is that the readers already know who the characters are, and all the hostages are experiencing the same basic emotions. The officers on the other side are all focused on the same objective. Therefore, the reader never loses touch with the emotion of the book.

Collins did choose two characters to go back to more often than the others, which gave the story a stable structure. Spreading out the viewpoints the rest of the time made for a rounded story with no sagging middle. The perspective stayed fresh. The action and tension remained taut.

And it wouldn’t be a Brandilyn Collins book without that twist in the end. A truly unique book. The entire series has my highest recommendation.